Six or eight neighbors sat on the front porch of our home one summer evening as often happened on warm evenings and this story was told by A German couple in the neighborhood.
Having recently arrived In Baltimore and spending the night at her Brothers house they walked a couple of blocks to Patterson Park.
It was Saturday and a lot of people were in the park, many were laying on blankets sunning them selves. A few were playing with dogs or kids. Most were just walking. These were the same things you might see anywhere in Europe, but there was a small differnece some how. These people seemed more at ease, maybe less formal. Otto thought about the park in his home town and the many hours he spent there as a child. He had pleasant memories of the puppet shows, organ grinders and jugglers. Parks in Germany were somewhat like amusement parks. hildren did not go there alone to play they were always supervised by adults. There was a deep seated fear that they would be stolen by Gypsies and taken to the black forest or some where beyond. Otto new of no one, this had happened to. These tales must have been past down from a time when the country was wild and untamed, when wondering tribes crossed the land and raided small villages. In Europe a park is a place that you get dressed to go to. These American children were poorly dressed and they played rough. He told Paula as wild as they are they may have been well dressed when they left home this morning. She laughed, They walked to the north side of the park were there was a base ball game going on. The couple climbed into the bleachers and watched. Otto could not figure out what was going on. A curious game he thought. Sometimes the man in the middle threw the ball and the other man swung at it and some times he didn't. Some times the people yelled and sometimes they didn't. One man squatting down caught the ball when the other man didn't hit it. Then he would do a funny thing, he'd lift up the padding he had on his belly and putting his hand under it he'd point three fingers at the ground, sometimes two, some times only one. What ever it meant he must have gotten it wrong sometimes because the one throwing the ball shook his head no and sometimes yes, then he'd throw. When all the players changed places all the men in the stands stood up and clapped. There was one man out there every one hated he was dressed like an undertaker. He didn't do much of anything except watch the one man throw the ball. Sometimes he let out an awful grunt. The guy swinging at the ball didn't like it, he got his face right in the undertakers face and he cursed and hollered. The ball was thrown and the black suited fellow said "baa" the man with the stick walked over and stood on a pillow. One of the players came up to Otto and said "hey buddy you want to play base ball we're short a man!" Otto told him he could play soccer but he'd never played base ball. The fellow told him that didn't matter they were short a man and any way he could play right field and he wouldn't have to do nothing nohow. Paula said "go ahead Otto play, if nothing else you can always kick the ball." Otto shrugged his shoulders and said "OK." The guy was right the ball didn't come to him and he was glad. Otto got up to bat and the man in the middle threw the ball right at him, he jumped back, it curved and went across the plate. The next throw the same thing happened. The crowed booed. Otto could not believe anybody could throw a ball like that, curving as it did. You just can't throw a ball in a circle, but this guy could. Otto had a sudden new respect for baseball. The guy that ask him to play yelled something to the guy in black, then walked over and told Otto to stay in there and swing. "He won't hit you" he said, "swing and swing hard." Otto stepped up to the plate, the ball came at him so fast he could hardly see it, he swung as hard as he could he heard a loud crack and the ball went somewhere, he didn't know where. He didn't have any idea what to do next. Somebody yelled "run." He ran to the bag he saw everybody else run to. Somebody was hollering "go to second, go to second run to second base." The only base he saw was one on the other side of the pitcher. Otto ran as hard as he could go, right straight across the middle of the diamond. Every one was yelling at him, he didn't know what to do. A guy ran up to him and yelled in his face. "go to second you dumb ..." Nobody's talks like that to me, he thought. Otto came up with a right square under the mans chin jacking him up off his feet. Otto caught a glimpse of Someone coming at him. He turned bring his guard up to late. He was hit right on the nose blood flew, Otto went down like a pile of bricks. He got up shaking his head to clear his vision, he saw people fighting every where. They were running down out of the stands onto the ball field fighting all the way. Suddenly Otto remembered Paula alone in the stands. He ran for the stands. Then he saw Paula standing off to the side waving at him. He ran to her, "are you all right he asked."
"Oh I'm fine" she said, "you don't look so good though." As they hurried along they heard the wail of a police siren and then another and another. The police were coming straight at them. Otto turned his face away from them pretending to talk to Paula so they couldn't see his battered face. The officers went right on by. As they hurried out of the park Paula asked "what did that man say to you that made you so mad?" "He called me a dumb Pollock," he mumbled through swollen lips. Paula laughed so hard she had to sit down on the curb. She had tears running down her cheeks. Otto looked around people were watching. He was standing there with blood on his face and she was crying. He took her by the arm helping her up he said “lets get back to your brothers before we get ourselves arrested. Her brother took them out to dinner. They had a fine German meal, the restaurant was a beautiful place. This restaurant was obviously very popular with Americans and Germans alike and all were well dressed. The whole place was like a museum with many antique relics of Germany's past. There were beautiful alabaster statues on display in every corner and alcove. On the walls were paintings of the country side in Germany and Austria. They brought back memories to all three of them. Hausners was a beautiful place to eat and the food was good. Paula looked longingly at a lovely little picture of a street in an old Austrian village, a bakery on the corner reminded her of her families bake shop at home. She wondered if she would ever be rid of her home sickness. She missed her mother, the friends she grew up with and most of all she missed Germany, the look of it, the feel, and the smell of it. She had seen no countryside here that looked like it. She wondered, why? In her young life had the changes come about that had destroyed a comfortable way of life and forced them to leave. For a moment she hated the allies that had defeated Germany in world war one. It was their fault, they had compelled Germany to adopt a strong Military government to regain the lands and manufacturing markets stolen from it. Stolen at the armistice ,they were the spoils of war. She worried about the safety of her family in a second war. "The next day was Sunday and we went for a ride with my brother and we found the plot of land we would later buy. It was on Robin wood road on the left side backing up to a hill Kimmels mountain. It was planted in fruit trees, mostly apple and it reminded me of my home land," Paula said. Everyone stood up and clapped. Otto and Paula sat smiling and looking very pleased.